Love The Beast

Posted: July 21, 2011 in Cars
Tags: , ,

All Australians know Eric Bana as a Hollywood darling come from the streets of Tullamarine in Victoria. What most probably don’t know is that Bana has a hobby. As often as he can Eric pilots his Porsche 911 GT3 in the Australian GT3 Championship. Eric also still owns the first car he ever purchased, a Ford XB Falcon coupe, nicknamed ‘The Beast’.

This lays the framework for Love The Beast. I realise that this film has been out for a while now but due to its limited cinema release, and the difficulty of finding a rental shop that stocks it, I only saw it recently. This review will also serve as companion to the next series of articles I will write.

Love The Beast is a documentary based on two of the great loves in Bana’s life, racing and his Falcon. It documents the build-up to Bana’s participation in the 2007 Targa Tasmania and the preparation that the Falcon must undergo to become a fully fledged racing car.

Interspersed with this are interviews that Bana conducts with Jay Leno, Dr Phil McGraw and my personal hero, Jeremy Clarkson. The interviews are all related to a person’s relationship with their vehicles of choice. Dr. Phil’s specific brand of psychobabble is quite revealing, while Leno and Clarkson speak from the heart as motoring enthusiasts. For those that don’t know Jay Leno owns quite possibly the world’s largest collections of vehicles and we get to have a quick walkthrough of his premises, consisting of about four large sheds and we get to hear Clarkson refer to Bana’s car as ‘crap’.

The film covers Bana’s history with the Targa Tasmania. He first competed in this event in 1997, which was the first time his Falcon became a racing car. Armed with no knowledge and limited practical experience Bana and four friends run ‘The Beast’ in Targa and finish third in their class. At the end of the event Bana swore that he would continue to compete in this event. However, working commitments mean, that ten years later, 2007 is his first real opportunity.

So, with his four friends from the 1997 event and his mum and dad, Bana’s participation in the 2007 event is filmed. Other guest appearances include long time Targa participants as well as Bathurst 1000 and Targa legend, Jim Richards. Although the Herald-Sun, and other news outlets, reported the outcome of Bana’s race I won’t repeat it here on the outside chance that you, dear reader, didn’t catch it.

What struck me most about this film isn’t the cars, although that is what the film is about, but, the people involved. The way that cars bring people together is captured so elegantly and seamlessly that you don’t realise it at the time of watching. This is a film about family and friendship as much as metal and one of the standout movies that I have recently seen.

Do you want a star rating? Do you want me to try and objectively qualify the quality of this film? Well, I’m not gonna play that game. The film was exceptional as I have mentioned but it wasn’t perfect. It inspired me to the point that I now really want to buy an old car and fix it up with my own sons. The way the film was laid out and presented was good and the building of tension, even though I knew the outcome, had me riveted. The best I can do is to say that I would recommend it to everyone, especially non-car people, so that they may understand what it means to have a special connection with a piece of metal. Just like Bana and his ‘Beast’.

This article first appeared in the March 2010 issue of The King’s Tribune.

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